SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Two years isn't a very long time to forget.
Thursday night, the Hudson boys' hockey team extracted some sweet revenge after posting a 3- 1 victory over Longmeadow in the Division 3 Central/West state semifinal held at the MassMutual Center.
Two years ago the Hawks fell victim to the Lancers by a count of 6-3 in this very same game. Longmeadow went on to capture the state title. Last year, Hudson was upended by Westfield in the state semifinal.
So "the third time is the charm'' theory fits well here.
The Hawks (22-1-1) will meet Medway (19-6-1) Sunday at TD Bank Garden (1:30 p.m.) for the state championship. The last time Hudson reached this plateau came back in 1978 when it defeated Burlington for a Division 1 crown. For Medway, which defeated Wayland in the North/South state semifinal Wednesday, this marks its first title appearance. No stranger to one another, these two teams met on Dec. 28th with the Hawks coming out on top 3-1 in the Metro West Tournament.
"It was a great hockey game and I have the utmost respect for Longmeadow," Hudson coach Mike Nanartowich said. "Playing in a state final is something that is very special. We go up against Medway now and all we can do is move forward and see what happens."
In last evening's affair, Hudson came out the aggressor from the opening face off and never backed off. A solid mix of physical checks at both ends of the ice never allowed the Lancers (12-6-4) to get comfortable, resulting sloppy puck possession, numerous turnovers and missed passes in the neutral zone as it became a constant struggle moving the puck around once inside the Hawks' zone. Even when Longmeadow had the man-advantage the Lancers failed to convert finishing 0-for-4.
"Hudson has got such a deep team," Longmeadow coach Jim Joyce said. "They're a team with a lot of seniors which brings different leadership and different dynamics. We knew coming in it was going to be a battle for us to win this because of their overall depth and us playing with a relative short bench."
Jeff Hamelin and Blake Seymour put the Hawks on the board first, both scoring a minute apart for an early 2-0 lead. But with just six seconds left in the initial frame, freshman Charlie Kelleher fired a laser past goaltender Shane Barry brining the Lancers back to within a goal.
Early in the middle frame while on the power play, Hudson pushed its advantage out to two goals after John Dutney tipped in a shot at 1:42.
"Playing in the Boston Garden is something I've always dreamed about," Hawks junior defenseman Bryan Carter said. "We knew Longmeadow is a very good team but I felt we were very well prepared tonight. We really did a good job defensively in tying them up and shutting them down."